Runeberg, Lönnrot, Snellman

Artist(s):Harry Kivijärvi Date:1968 Medium:black granite Dimensions:415 x 760 cm Location:Koskenniemenaukio, Yliopistonmäki

Architect Aarne Ervi’s overall plan for Yliopistonmäki (University Hill) included a sculpture group to be placed in the vicinity of the University’s Main Building. For this purpose, the Finnish Cultural Foundation announced a sculpture competition on 12 May 1962 for a memorial to J. V. Snellman, Elias Lönnrot and J. L. Runeberg, who began their studies at the Royal Academy of Turku in 1822. Sculptor Raimo Heino’s entry won the competition, yet the jury did not support implementing Heino’s or any of the other contestants’ submissions. The abstract designs awarded in the competition were also subject to public debate.

The Huhtamäki Group held a second, invitational competition for the memorial between Harry Kivijärvi and Aimo Tukiainen, which Kivijärvi won. According to the contract, Kivijärvi was obliged to make a bronze sculpture. He, however, proposed that the memorial be made of stone. A committee convened by the Finnish Cultural Foundation approved the artist’s proposal, and the final sculpture was made from Jyväskylä-sourcedblack granite. Familiarly known as Kolme vekkulia (“The Three Rascals”), the sculpture was unveiled at the University’s opening ceremony on 5 September 1968. The City of Turku oversaw its mounting, and Rector Tauno Nurmela received it on the University’s behalf.

Harry Kivijärvi (1931–2010) specialised in stone processing. Kivijärvi studied at the Drawing School of Turku Art Society in 1947–1950 and at the School of the Fine Arts Academy of Finland in the early 1950s. During his career, he also painted and created tapestries and a number of public monuments. Kivijärvi’s literary works include Miten pyramidit rakennettiin? (1990), a nonfiction book on the construction of the pyramids, as well as the novel Ruukku (1999). Kivijärvi received the Pro Finlandia Medal in 1970 and the Ars Fennica Lifetime Achievement award in 2003 in recognition of his extensive and exceptional career. In 2012, the Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation received a considerable donation from Kivijärvi’s heirs, comprising the artist’s own works as well as his private art collection.

Emma Vuolaslempi 2024

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“Suomen Kulttuurirahaston nuorta Lönnrotia, Runebergia ja Snellmania yhteisesti esittävän patsashankkeen vaiheita.” Taidekokoelmia koskevaa 1963–1970, I Ia3:2, University of Turku Central Archives. Original documents in the archives of the Finnish Cultural Foundation Hk4.2.2:1.

Turun Yliopiston Vuosikirja 1968–1969. I He4:5, University of Turku Central Archives.

Valjakka, Timo. “Harry Kivijärvi.” Helsingin Sanomat, 15 April 2010.